SERAP) calls on USA for visa ban on Nigerian officials and others.

SERAP) calls on USA for visa ban on Nigerian officials and others.

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the United States president, Joe Biden to place Nigerian officials, politicians and other perpetrators and sponsors of violence during Saturday’s general elections under visa ban.

SERAP, which made the request in an open letter dated February 25, 2023, specifically urged the US President to exercise his powers “under the Presidential Proclamations 7750 and 8697 and the Immigration and Nationality Act to sanction the perpetrators.”

The civil society organisation in the letter signed by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, made the call following reports of election-related intimidation, harassment and violence in several states of the country, including in Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Gombe, Lagos, Edo, Ogun, Osun, Rivers, and Taraba states, and Abuja.

SERAP also urged Biden to use the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to block or revoke the visas of anyone suspected to be responsible for cases of intimidation, harassment and violence during the elections, and to impose asset freezes and property sanctions on them and their families.

It maintained that the imposition of targeted sanctions against suspected perpetrators and sponsors of election-related violence in Nigeria would promote accountability, end impunity, and deter human rights violations.

SERAP noted that, if the presidential proclamations, Global Magnitsky Act, and Immigration and Nationality Act are applied as recommended, it would benefit the efforts to stop further violence before, during and after elections, facilitate free and fair elections, and encourage the people to exercise their right to vote.

The organisation also pointed out that the recommended travel bans, asset freezes, and property sanctions should also cover anyone who may perpetrate and sponsor violence and human rights crimes during the postponed elections in 141 polling units and the governorship elections scheduled for March 2023.

SERAP said that it welcomes that the US government has publicly expressed commitment to impose visa restrictions on officials, politicians and other perpetrators and sponsors of election-related intimidation, harassment, and violence but also called for asset freezes and property sanctions on the list.”

It stated that if the US government gives serious consideration to the organisation’s recommendations and promptly implements them it would give meaning to the commitment and demonstrate the willingness of “your government to support and strengthen democracy, citizens’ participation and the rule of law, as well as end a culture of election-related violence in Nigeria.”

SERAP notes that, “presidential proclamations 7750 and 8697 underscore the US ‘enduring commitment to respect for human rights and humanitarian law, which requires that its government be able to ensure that the US does not become a haven for suspected violators of human rights, including election-related intimidation, harassment and violence.

“The proclamations also aim to help the US authorities to secure peace, promote the rule of law, combat crime and corruption, and strengthen democracies around the globe.

“Significantly, the presidential proclamations underscore that it is in the interests of the United States to take action to restrict international travel and to suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or non-immigrants, of certain persons who are suspected to be involved in serious violations of human rights.

“Under Section 212(a)(3)C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, officials and politicians and other suspected perpetrators and sponsors of election-related violence will be found ineligible for visas to the United States under a policy to restrict visas of those who directly or indirectly undermine democracy in Nigeria.’’

SERAP added that under the aforementioned provisions, certain family members of such persons may also be subject to these restrictions, saying additional persons who undermined the democratic process in Nigeria – including before, during and after the elections on 25th February, 2023 may be found ineligible for US visas under this policy.

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